COVID-19 health and safety at work: how to let candidates know they’ll be protected
Even though it may seem like candidates are desperate to get back to work, recent research by Monster shows that the majority of people aren’t willing to compromise their health and safety to find employment. While 65% of employers report they are excited to return to work, only 28% of candidates say they’re just as eager. In an an environment like that, how do you show candidates that you prioritize COVID-19 health and safety at work?
“It’s important for businesses to remember that even when restrictions begin to lift, individual concerns won’t disappear overnight,” says Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO of Chargebacks911, a financial consulting fir m based in Clearwater, Florida.“The hiring process needs to take these concerns into account.”
This starts with ensuring your business has the right measures in place, communicating those actions to job seekers, and ensuring protocol is being followed throughout the interview process and beyond. Below, we’ve outlined some tips to help employers attract candidates after COVID-19.
Have a health and safety plan in place
From the candidate perspective, Monster found that the vast majority (90%) feel it’s important for their current and future companies to have health and safety guidelines and return to work strategies. Yet, only 40% of employers have such measures in place.
As businesses prepare to get back onsite and start the hiring process, it’s important to first take the time to draft a new set of COVID-19 health and safety at work guidelines.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to creating health and safety procedures for your hiring process, the guidelines laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are a good place to start.
Additionally, businesses will want to take OSHA and EEOC requirements into consideration. Including guidelines for social distancing, sanitization, health screenings, and personal protection equipment (PPE) in your health and safety plan can all help make candidates feel comfortable coming to work for you.
Communicate health and safety measures to job seekers
While having COVID-19 health and safety procedures in place is important, they’ll do little to help your hiring initiatives if they’re kept hidden from the outside world.
“You don’t want the perfect candidate to skip on your opportunity simply because they don’t see that you have any measures in place,” says Nate Masterson, CEO of Maple Holistics, in Farmingdale, New Jersey.
“People want to feel safe right now and every candidate wants an employer who cares about their well-being. Not conveying to candidates that you’re taking precautions can lead them to believe that you actually aren’t.”
Monster found that candidates are expecting hiring managers to address COVID-19 measures early on in their conversations. Is working from home an option? Will travel be required? Are employees required to wear PPE?
“An open and honest discussion should be had early on, which will help reassure the applicant that their best interests are in mind,” Eaton-Cardone says. “It also indicates a professional and respectful approach and shows that the company is equipped to deal with all extenuating circumstances.”
Here’s are a few different places hiring managers can lead the discussion:
In order to best relay your message to prospective candidates, the job description can help address health and safety from the start.
“With the world being in the state that it is, it’s not unusual for hiring managers to convey their COVID-19 health and safety measures in the job description,” Masterson says.
“It can either be inserted in a footnote at the end of the description or alternatively be the opening line, something along the lines of, ‘While we’re putting our employee health and safety first with socially distanced office cubicles and mandatory temperature checks, we’re looking for (job title).’ This helps candidates to feel secure that you’re being careful before they’ve even applied for the position.”
While the job posting may be the first touchpoint a job seeker has with your company, there are other factors candidates will also be considering before applying. As they research your company, consider how you can continue to communicate your health and safety guidelines in your employer branding.
Heather Bendinelli, co-founder of California-based company Small Business Employee Training, says, “An employer should also include this information on their website as well as across their social channels so that the entire brand message is cohesive and potential candidates can find this relevant information easily.”
Once a job seeker has made the decision to apply, the interview is where you should continue the health and safety discussion.
“Although much of the interview process is the candidate hoping to impress the employer, don’t forget that they’re judging you and your company too,” Masterson says. “This means allowing candidates the space and opportunity to express any opinions or concerns with the health and safety information that you’ve relayed.”
Implement health and safety protocol during the interview process and beyond
In today’s business environment, companies need to be able to do more than just “talk the talk.” After communicating your health and safety plan, the last thing a candidate or new hire wants is to walk through your door and see complete abandonment of the rules.
“It would be best for hiring managers to continue to screen candidates through video interviews despite restrictions being lifted,” Masterson says. “This means that candidates can apply freely without fear of how they will get to the interview.”
If candidates must come onsite to interview, social distancing measures, such as limiting exposure to other people in the office and spreading chairs six feet apart, can help put prospects at ease. In addition, consider wearing a face mask (and having one available for the candidate), avoiding handshakes, and setting up hand sanitizing stations.
Even after accepting your job offer, you’ll want to consider health and safety in the onboarding process as well. Bendinelli says, “It would be wise to set up a COVID-19 training or have them take a course that will educate them on the new health and safety procedures so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding on how they are expected to perform in the workplace.”
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